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The Nevada State Capitol in Carson City as seen on Monday, Aug 14, 2017. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

The two candidates vying to be Nevada’s next lieutenant governor unveiled television ads Wednesday that tout their respective accomplishments but gloss over some of the details.

The 30-second ad released by Michael Roberson’s campaign features female supporters talking about the Nevada Senate Republican leader’s work in Carson City. Here’s the text of the ad, which states his full name four times:

“Only one candidate led the effort to pass the largest increase in education spending in Nevada history and actually reduce class sizes in our schools — Michael Roberson. The only candidate who passed the first-ever legislative gift ban — Michael Roberson. Michael wrote the bill cracking down on drug companies overcharging for prescription drugs and expanded health care for every woman in Nevada. That’s why we support Michael Roberson. Michael Roberson for lieutenant governor.”

Roberson played a key role in helping pass the Commerce Tax during the GOP-controlled 2015 legislative session. The tax — imposed on businesses with more than $4 million in gross Nevada revenue per year as part of the largest tax increase in state history — was part of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s plan to reform the state’s long-struggling K-12 education system, but it ignited controversy within his own party.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt, who is essentially Roberson’s running mate, has said he’ll seek to repeal the Commerce Tax.

As for the bill about prescription drugs, the situation is a bit more complicated than Roberson’s ad lets on. Democratic Sen. Yvanna Cancela authored a pharmaceutical transparency bill that would have required manufacturers of diabetes drugs to disclose information about their costs and profits, but Sandoval vetoed the measure during the final days of the 2017 legislative session.

Roberson, meanwhile, had sponsored a bill addressing the middlemen in the drug-pricing process known as pharmacy benefit managers. Two days after Sandoval vetoed Cancela’s bill, it was given a new life by being almost entirely amended into Roberson’s bill. The bipartisan measure passed the Legislature and was signed into law by the governor.

“This is a bipartisan compromise,” Roberson said on the Senate floor in June 2017. “It’s actually better than a compromise because we are focused all along the supply chain from the pharmaceutical manufacturer on down to the retail pharmacist in making a serious effort to address the skyrocketing costs of diabetes drugs to patients here in Nevada.”

Roberson’s wife, Liberty Leavitt, also makes a brief cameo in the ad. Leavitt, a fifth-generation Nevada resident who says she’s a “registered independent,” issued a statement with the ad supporting her husband and his mission to become lieutenant governor.

“Our family has faced its own challenges with regard healthcare,” she wrote. “I am someone who currently struggles with rheumatoid arthritis and a number of other health challenges that virtually all insurers regard as a pre-existing conditions. Michael has been my strongest supporter in navigating these challenges and we have faced them together. I know Michael will continue to be a strong advocate for women’s issues and for better healthcare for all Nevadans.”

His opponent, Democrat Kate Marshall, released her first television ad the same day. The 30-second ad, which mentions her full name twice, touts her record as the former state treasurer, but it also attacks Roberson without any citations.

When asked for backup for the criticism that Roberson or his law firm benefited from his votes, Marshall’s campaign sent stories about the senator proposing a mining tax that was supported by Las Vegas Sands, a client of his law firm’s government affairs team.

Here’s the full text of Marshall’s ad:

“A federal prosecutor who held big corporations accountable for preying on working families. A state treasurer who, without raising taxes, guided Nevada during the worst economic crisis in generations. Created a college savings program for Nevada kindergartners, our next generation. That’s Kate Marshall, fighting to make the middle class first class. But Michael Roberson, sponsoring bills that benefit him, his law firm, and his pocketbook. It’s clear. For lieutenant governor, one candidate’s fighting for Nevada’s future: Kate Marshall.”

The ad’s reference to taxes is misleading. As state treasurer, Marshall did not have authority to increase taxes. To increase taxes, Nevada law requires a legislative supermajority — approval from two-thirds of state lawmakers in each house — or a legislative majority followed by a vote of the people in the next general election.

Marshall’s ad is airing in the Reno and Las Vegas markets. It’s part of a six-figure ad buy for cable, broadcast and digital.

The ad released by Roberson’s campaign is for digital and television. His campaign team did not disclose where it’s running or the cost of the ad buy.


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